Vicente Ferreira Pastinha was born on April 5th, 1889 to José Señor Pastinha and Eugênia Maria de Carvalho. He learned capoeira at age 8 from an African named Benedito, who taught Pastinha the art so that he could defend himself from an older boy who was bullying him in the street.
From 1902 to 1909, Pastinha taught capoeira to his colleagues at the School of Sailor Apprentices. He stopped teaching in 1912 and spent nearly thirty years away from capoeira. In 1941, at the request of other mestres of the era, Mestre Pastinha opened a center for the teaching and practice of traditional capoeira. His students wore black and yellow, the colors of Ypiranga, his favorite soccer team.
Many of Pastinha’s students went on to become great names in capoeira angola, such as Aberrê (mestre of Canjiquinha), João Pequeno, João Grande, Gato, Bola Sete, Curió, Gildo Alfinete, and Boca Rica. In 1966, Mestre Pastinha and his students presented capoeira angola at the First Festival of Black Arts in Senegal.
Mestre Pastinha is known as the “philosopher of capoeira” because of his great wisdom about the art and about life in general. Despite his immensely important work in preserving the traditional capoeira, he came to an unfortunate end. The government took away his academy, promising to renovate it and return it to him, but the renovated space was instead given to a restaurant. Mestre Pastinha died poor, blind, and bitter about the injustice he suffered; however, he did not regret his life as a capoeirista.
Angola, mother capoeira. Sorcery of slaves in the longing for freedom; its beginning has no method and its end is inconceivable to even the most knowledgeable capoeirista.
– Mestre Pastinha.